Carnival vs. Royal Caribbean: Smackdown!

carnival vs royal caribbean smackdown best
Who comes out on top when two cruise heavyweights go toe-to-toe? - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International

Carnival and Royal Caribbean rule the waves. They’re the cruise world’s biggest, most well-known players. Both have giant new ships geared toward just about everyone: young, old, singles, couples, and families. The cruises are low-priced (Carnival’s especially), casual, and focused on good old-fashioned fun rather than lectures or highbrow classes. The differences between the two lines lie in Royal Caribbean’s focus on sporty activities — think climbing walls and boxing rings — and Carnival’s casual dining and party-friendly atmosphere. Read on to see how the two stack up:

Highlights | Prices | Itineraries | Standard Cabins | Specialty Cabins | Dining | Activities | Entertainment | Kids & Families | Overall

Highlights

carnival royal caribbean cruise higlights
Both lines sail enormous ships. - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Highlights: Carnival's ships are known as the “Fun Ships” for a reason. This casual, affordable, family-friendly (and party-friendly) line is one of the best choices for first-time cruisers, kids, and young folks on a budget.

  • Despite the low price point, their service is often considered among the best in the business, and their solid lineup of included onboard dining features fan-favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint, Tandoori Grill, and Blue Iguana Cantina.

  • Cruises on Carnival are extremely laidback and often have a “tailgate” atmosphere (think of a neighborhood pool party with beer buckets and belly flops). As you might have guessed, these sailings aren’t for anyone looking for a posh and elegant journey on the high seas.

  • Carnival’s partnership with Dr. Seuss, plus their activity-filled Sportsquare and family-friendly games like Hasbro: The Game Show, make them the perfect line for families cruising on a budget.

Royal Caribbean Highlights: The top cruise line for adrenaline junkies, Royal Caribbean’s approach to cruising could be described as “go big or go home”. While some of the older ships in their fleet are “smaller” (if you can bring yourself to call a ship with 3,000 passengers “small”), most of their new vessels can easily hold upwards of 5,000 passengers on every sailing, and four of the top five largest ships in the world fly the Royal Caribbean flag.

  • Royal’s newest ships come with so many onboard activities, entertainment, and dining options, you literally will not be able to experience all of it in a single 7-night sailing.

  • Royal Caribbean continues to uphold its reputation as the biggest pioneer of onboard entertainment, and nearly all of its ships boast its signature rock climbing walls and surf simulators. Its newer ships come with even more onboard adventures like zip lines, sky-diving simulators, and enormous water slides. You might get overwhelmed by their ships, but you will never, ever be bored.

  • Royal’s Oasis-class ships continue to be among the top-rated ships on Cruiseline.com, and their newest ship, Symphony of the Seas, has absolutely dominated our Members’ Choice awards for the past two years.

  • While Royal is a great option for outgoing and adventurous families, couples, and singles, it is absolutely not for travelers looking for a low-key getaway.

 

 

 

Prices

carnival royal caribbean prices deals cruise
7-night Caribbean sailings will generally be slightly cheaper on Carnival. - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Prices: Out of the biggest cruise lines sailing the Caribbean (Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America), Carnival is the most affordable in the business.

  • Balcony cabins on their newest ships often go for as low as $75/night, per person. (You’ll struggle to find balcony cabins for less than $100/night on other lines.)

  • Inside cabins on short, 4-night sailings to the Bahamas and the Caribbean are almost always available for less than $50/night, per person.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Prices: It’s possible to find good deals on Royal Caribbean sailings, but it’s not nearly as common and their floor is significantly higher than Carnival’s (particularly for their newer ships).

  • Royal’s older ships sail short Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries with price points similar to Carnival, but these ships don’t have the new, cutting-edge amenities Royal has become known for over the past decade.

  • It’s possible to find good deals for their top ships like Oasis and Allure, (think inside cabins from about $70/night per person and balcony cabins from $100/night), but sailing during high-demand times of year generally costs more.

Our Pick: Carnival hands down. It’s easy to make the case that Royal Caribbean’s higher fares are well worth the price, but if you’re cruising on a budget, Carnival’s fares are consistently lower.

 

 

Itineraries

carnival royal caribbean cruise itineraries destinations
Both lines have a huge presence in the Caribbean, but royal sails to more exotic destinations like Vietnam (right). - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Itineraries: The vast bulk of Carnival’s cruises ply the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico, but it does have a few ships sailing to ports in Europe, Alaska, and Hawaii. Carnival ships mostly sail from major ports like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Tampa, Galveston and New York. One thing Carnival doesn’t generally offer is long cruise itineraries, as most of their sailings are 7 nights or less.

Royal Caribbean Itineraries: Royal Caribbean’s fleet of globe-trotters goes everywhere Carnival does plus more exotic locales like Asia, Australia, and South America. Royal Caribbean also has a large number of extended sailings from 8-14 nights, perfect for more experienced cruisers who want to explore hard-to-reach ports or spend a few extra days at sea.

Our Pick: Royal Caribbean. Carnival has expanded its offering of itineraries in recent years, but it’s still a primarily Caribbean-focused line. Royal Caribbean’s ships will take you just about anywhere you want to go, plus their new private island CocoCay is arguably the best private island in the business.

 

 

Royal Deals From  

 

Standard Cabins

carnival royal caribbean balcony cruise cabins
Standard cabins are more or less the same across the industry with only minor differences. - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Cabins: Carnival ships have always been as big on cabins as they are on fun, and you won’t find one in the fleet smaller than 185 square feet — even in the inside rooms. The shower stalls are roomy to match. The cabin choices on older ships are far more straightforward, although Vista and Horizon have added a number of new options to keep up with the rest of the industry.

Royal Caribbean Cabins: Royal Caribbean is not as known for space. Their notoriously narrow tubelike showers (if you have to bend over to pick up your soap, good luck) mirror their more compact cabins. For example, inside cabins on Majesty of the Seas measure a paltry 114 square feet.

Our Pick: Draw. You can deal with a small cabin, but nobody wants to feel like a sardine. That said, the more distinctly modern design of Royal’s cabins can make up for the lack of room.

 

 

Specialty Cabins

carnival royal caribbean specialty cabins
Carnival's Family Harbor cabin (left) and Royal's Interior Virtual Balcony (right). - Photo by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Specialty Cabins: While Carnival’s specialty cabins used to be somewhat underwhelming, their newest ships rolled out three new excellent and affordable specialty categories.

  • Family Harbor Staterooms come with exclusive access to the nearby Family Harbor Lounge, which offers breakfast in the morning and snacks all day, plus family-friendly activities like board games, movies, and more. Booking one of these staterooms also means your kids will eat free in most specialty restaurants, and it even comes with one free evening of Night Owls babysitting service.

  • Havana Harbor Staterooms are designed to feel like an exclusive island resort and come with exclusive access to the Havana Bar and Pool. As you might expect, the rooms have a delightfully Cuban aesthetic, and cruisers who upgrade to the Havana Cabana will have an extra-large outdoor space with a hammock chair.

  • Cloud 9 Spa Staterooms come with elegant decor than a typical Carnival cabin, along with in-room amenities like Elemis toiletries and spa-branded bathrobes and slippers. These cabins also come with priority spa reservations, fitness classes, and unlimited access to the thermal suites.

Royal Caribbean Specialty Cabins: Royal Caribbean’s high-end specialty cabins are truly something to be marvelled at: the two-story, glass-walled loft suites on the Oasis- and Quantum-class ships have a sea-facing living room below and loft bedroom above. These two classes of ships also have prime suites facing the diving and swimming shows in the AquaTheater. But since the vast majority of cruisers will never be able to afford them, let’s go over some of their other offerings:

  • Spa staterooms are now available on all Radiance-, Voyager-, Freedom-, Oasis-, and Quantum-class ships. These come with the traditional spa amenities like fluffy robes and slippers, luxury bedding, upgraded bathrooms and toiletries, plus jetted shower heads and Bluetooth speakers in each room. These also come with priority spa reservations and discounted spa treatments, daily coffee or tea, and a welcome gift of fresh fruit on embarkation day.

  • For those with smaller budgets, newer Royal Caribbean ships ships will have inside cabins with virtual balconies — digital panels displaying what’s happening outside the ship in real time. Likewise, the “interior balcony” rooms on Oasis and Quantum-class ships make balcony cabins slightly more affordable, though we have wonder if it’s worth the loss of privacy and the lack of an ocean view.

Our Pick: Carnival. Royal Caribbean used to be the undisputed winner here, but Carnival’s recent innovations have put them ahead.

 

 

Carnival Deals From  

 

Dining

carnival royal caribbean dining food
Same meat, very different styles. - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Dining: While Carnival’s specialty restaurants may not be the most competitive, the selection of included dining options is downright impressive considering their price point.

  • Fans of fast casual will love that Guy’s Burger Joint (launched by Food Network star Guy Fieri) is included in the cruise fare. You can grab a Guy’s burger on 24 ships in the fleet, and his Pig & Anchor Bar-b-Que is now on 7 different ships. BlueIguana Cantina also serves excellent burritos on the lido — be sure to try the breakfast burrito — making Carnival a serious contender for the title of “Best Poolside Eateries”.

  • The outstanding Indian cuisine at the Tandoor buffet is a staple of the fleet, while the Seafood Shack serving a “catch of the day” and the outstanding Chinese food at JiJi’s Asian Kitchen are new additions to the fleet that show Carnival is still committed to innovation.

  • While the specialty options are limited, the modern steakhouse Fahrenheit 555 tends to stand out with its cuisine ranging from escargot tucked into tiny rounds of puff pastry to vertical platings of steak topped with roasted garlic, to the chocolate tastings in elegant little glasses.

  • There is generally one formal night per cruise where passengers are asked to dress up for dinner. Those who don’t want to participate can eat at the buffet.

Royal Caribbean Dining: While Carnival’s specialty restaurants are few and far between, the newest Royal Caribbean ships have so many you won’t be able to eat at all of them in a single 7-night sailing. This might be disappointing for cruisers who like to experience everything a ship has to offer, but you’ll have a great selection to choose from.

  • Top choices include classic pub grub by James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz at 150 Central Park to rustic Italian from celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver and Asian fusion cuisine comprising Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian dishes.

  • The whimsical Alice-inspired Wonderland restaurant, the modern Mexican venue Sabor with guacamole prepared tableside, and Sugar Beach ice cream and candy shop all showcase Royal’s culinary adventurousness and desire to take onboard cuisine to the next level.

  • For those looking for simplicity rather than experimentation, some Royal Caribbean ships have pizzerias, doughnut shops, and hot dog stands; others have Johnny Rockets diners.

  • There is generally one formal night per cruise where passengers are asked to dress up for dinner. Those who don’t want to participate can eat at the buffet.

Our Pick: Draw. They both have impressive new options, plus some dependable old ones. Casual cruisers generally prefer Carnival’s simplicity, while foodies will appreciate the selection and innovation of Royal’s lineup.

 

 

Activities

carnival royal caribbean activities
Both lines have plenty to keep you busy on board. - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Activities: For years, Carnival relied on basic fun, with passengers happily swigging beer out of the can and cheering on shipmates in belly flop contests by the pool, but hats off to the line for rolling with the times and offering a greater variety of things to do over the past few years.

  • You can find a variety of water slides at the WaterWorks water park, and most ships have mini-golf courses. The SportSquare on 7 ships comes with basketball courts and a ropes course.

  • Lido deck activities directed by the Cruise Line have a casual feel, with contests for the hairiest chest, sexiest legs, and biggest belly flop.

  • For indoor fun, Carnival’s lineup includes standard cruise classics like trivia, bingo and dance classes, along with Hasbro the Game Show, an interactive, family-friendly game where cruisers can play enormous versions of Hasbro games like Yahtzee, Connect Four, and Simon.

  • Adults can find much-needed solace at the Serenity Adult Only Retreat (a kids-free area with a bar and plenty of lounge chairs) or the onboard spa with hot stone massages or full-body wraps.

Royal Caribbean Activities: Royal Caribbean is known as the pioneer of onboard innovation. The line started with climbing walls to FlowRider® surfing simulators, and has since added ziplining nine stories above deck, bumper cars, and even a sky diving chamber with RipCord by iFLY.

  • Basketball courts and rock climbing walls are on every Royal Caribbean ship, and most have mini-golf courses as well.

  • All of their ships have at least two water slides, and the line can now claim the title of tallest slide at sea thanks to the 10-story Ultimate Abyss slide on Harmony of the Seas.

  • Newer ships come with a SeaPlex, the largest indoor active space at sea with a circus school, full-size regulation basketball court, roller skating, bumper cars, and DJ booth.

  • Adults can relax at the Vitality Spa or the Solarium, a large, tropically-themed space with lounge chairs, hot tubs, and a full bar covered by a large glass canopy.

Our Pick: Royal Caribbean. The line “went there” before anyone else did, and is still going bigger and better than the competition.

 

 

Entertainment

carnival royal caribbean cruise entertainment best
Carnival's small-room entertainment is where they shine, while Royal excels at innovative entertainment like the AquaTheater (right). - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Entertainment: From the start, Carnival’s forte has been its ability to throw a really great party night after night, with passengers dancing the hours away in cavernous discos and popular piano bars. Their stage shows are less of a draw, but you’ll still find plenty of entertainment on board.

  • Carnival’s Playlist Productions features LED screen and special effects for a number of different stage shows including "America Rocks," "Flick," "Amor Cubano," "Heart and Soul" and "Epic Rock."

  • The Punchliner Comedy Club has both R-rated and family-friendly shows from talented and high-profile comedians.

Royal Caribbean Entertainment: Like their onboard activities, Royal specializes in adding flashy, high-tech flares to their live performances. Case in point: the Two70 entertainment venue, a cutting-edge, multimedia concert experience with video projection and moving screens controlled by robotic arms.

  • Royal’s top stage shows give Broadway a run for its money. The show varies by ship, but the most popular include staples like “Momma Mia”, “Hairspray” and “Grease”.

  • The line’s older ships have parades, movies, and ice and water shows, and their causal entertainment includes piano sing-alongs a the Schooner Bar or Karaoke at the On Air Club.

  • The outdoor AquaTheater is a truly unique venue in cruising, offering high diving and aquatic dancing shows. Some cabins even have a direct view of this theater so you can watch from your balcony.

Our Pick: Draw. Carnival’s nightlife and partying are unrivaled (even on its older, less cutting-edge ships), but Royal Caribbean’s high-tech entertainment is truly mind blowing.

 

 

Kids & Families

Both lines have great kid-friendly options like Hasbro: The Game Show (left) and water parks like Splashaway Bay (right).- Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Carnival Kids & Families: Carnival’s decks are filled with activities, and pools are topped with the line’s Twister water slide, as well as “splash zones” for the littlest cruisers. Carnival also scores points for Hasbro: The Game Show and its 24-hour pizza.

  • The outdoor play areas feature mini-basketball hoops and jungle gyms, and the indoor game rooms offer the latest video and arcade games.

  • At Camp Carnival, activities are divided into three groups: ages 2 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 11. At night, the club offers Night Owls, so kids get to stay up late while their parents go out.

  • Kids 12 to 14 can head to Circle C with a dance floor with plasma screens displaying movies and videos, a jukebox, gaming pods, and more.

  • Expanded kids’ menus include a daily special, and older kids can grab dinner poolside at the 24-hour pizzeria or the grill, and pick up soft serve anytime. Through the Bottomless Bubbles Soda Card, kids have access to unlimited sodas and juices.

Royal Caribbean Kids & Families: Although Royal lost its wonderful character partnership with Dreamworks in 2019, their selection of thrilling onboard activities still makes them one of the best lines for older kids and teens.

  • The Adventure Ocean kids clubs on Oasis ships have designated areas for toddlers, kids, tweens, and teens, and come with a theater, video arcades, a DJ academy, and arts and crafts workshops.

  • The Royal Tots and Royal Babies programs are a boon to parents of babies and toddlers — drop off your little ones during the day or evening for an hourly fee (only Disney offers care for children as young).

  • Royal’s ships have plenty of kid-friendly dining options ,including New york-style pizza and burgers and hot dogs from Johnny Rockets.

Our Pick: Royal Caribbean. Royal wins with its drop-off care for under 3s and its private in-cabin babysitting option, not to mention the climbing walls, roller skating and other sports.

 

 

Overall

The best line for you comes down to your personal preference. - Photos by Carnival & Royal Caribbean

Our pick: Royal Caribbean. Carnival is a solid option for casual, low-key cruisers or first-time sailors looking for affordable Caribbean getaways, but the party atmosphere may be a little too laidback for some. Both lines are great choices for families and offer excellent selections of dining, but overall Royal Caribbean comes out on top — just barely — thanks to its envelope-pushing innovations in onboard activities, entertainment, and dining.

 

 

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Join the discussion

Which cruise line do you like best?

18 Comments

Posted by Sheri14

Been on 5 carnival cruises there was never dancing in the discos late at night. People walked in and walked out. Saw people playing cards in the evening. very boring entertainment. Heard Royal parties more!! Who agrees ?

Posted by cshorlock

Done both had great time on both but royal Caribbean ships are nicer, less crowded, and flow better. Carnival fun but plain and crowded. We stood in line for what seemed like everything on the magic.

Posted by CarnivalMan12

'ALL FOR FUN AND FUN FOR ALL' GO CARNIVAL!!!!!

Posted by JakeStuttgen

Royal Caribbean for the win!!!

Posted by cruiseaholictim

How can you say "Just Barly"? Readers voted RC better in almost every category by 0ver 30% average. You guys must be VIFP Elite members.

Posted by BobButtons

Royal Caribbean all the way!

Posted by TennCruiser

Carnival for me!!

Posted by laytonblue09

RCCL Whoop! Whoop!

Posted by CruiseDestiny

Haven't been on either yet. But I am really excited for the idea of waterslides for me and my kids however I am impressed with Royal Carribean baby daycare facilities as I will be cruising most likely with a baby and as a single mother that would be a huge plus.

Posted by PrincessDon

Royal Carribbean ALL THE WAY!!!!

Posted by cjpmpd

I have been on 3 Royal Caribbean cruises (Majesty, Enchantment, Independence) and 1 Carnival cruise (Triumph), and there is no comparison. ROYAL CARIBBEAN HANDS DOWN!! When you spend that kind of money for a vacation, I expect to be treated "royally." I've been blessed to be able to go on 4 cruises in my lifetime and I don't come by it monetarily easy. I tip good for good service. I do take into consideration the age of the ships, as well. Carnival is a "party ship." Not that I don't drink & have a good time. Royal is a much classier ship overall. We were VERY disappointed in the food in the dining room on Carnival as we expected it to be top-of-the-line as Royal was (ex., I ordered peas & carrots and got the typical "canned, square, carrots & peas" you buy at WalMart. We gave it a 2nd try and I ordered a grilled chicken breast and i couldn't even cut into it. Hard, cold and nothing special with it. Couldn't even finish it. Never had a hot meal the entire time on our 5 day cruise unless we ate at Guy's Burger Joint or the Asian Bar. Royal's dining room was like we were in Paris, Italy or any country being served by the chef who was cooking for us. Was absolutely FANTASTIC! I will never go back on a Carnival cruise. Felt very let down by them. Stood in line to get on. Stood in line to get off. Never experienced this on Royal. No reason for that. Just my opinion, of course.

Posted by cjw928

You lost me when you voted Carnival better for entertainment. RCCL is KNOWN for their entertainment... besides, everyone knows Norwegian is best! (free alcohol..need I say more?)

Posted by PurpleHouse

There's no way you can compare Royal Caribbean with Carnival. Carnival is a party ship where people get drunk all the time with making loud noises. Royal Caribbean is much more superior and elegant.

Posted by btift

Bathrooms in cabins are larger on Carnival..Also you pay extra to eat Johnny Rocket burgers on RC but Guys burgers are free on Carnival..No comparison to us..Carnival all the way!

Posted by luv2cruise1961

I have been on 2 Carnival cruises (just got back from one on Carnival the first of November), took an RC last year and have been on Norwegian and Princess. I have to say I was disappointed on the Royal Caribbean (the Navigator of the Seas) in the quality of food. I was really expecting big things and it didn't happen. I was also disappointed in the entertainment. Some nights there wasn't anything in the theater. Plus the shopping on the ship wasn't near as good as Carnival either. Another deal was the tube like showers where you could barely turn around. I'm not huge by any means but I don't know how some of those people I saw on the ship took showers because they are so small. The bathroom counter was great and the desk area was awesome too, but the Carnival shower was way bigger, but no sink counter space. We had an inside stateroom on Carnival that was at the end so our beds made an L shape, gave us tons of room, loved it. Plus there was lots of storage and closets. I picked this cruise because of the itinerary, we had 5 stops on it so we were only at sea 1 day. We also went during Halloween and that was the best time ever. They decorated the ship so cute and everyone dressed up in costumes. Will definitely do that again. For the price I paid for the Carnival cruise ($600) compared to the RC cruise which was considerably more (we had a balcony room on it), I would pick Carnival again and I'm already wanting to go on the new Vista. I guess it just depends on what your likes and dislikes are what you want to pay for. I'd rather spend less on the cruise and do more other things. The food is comparable for the most part on any ship, none of it is just outstanding in my opinion, but I had a great time on all of them. I just love to cruise and see new places.

Posted by DoileyChair

This is always an interesting debate. It’s like Ford vs. Chevy. (Although I don’t know why anybody would prefer either of those 2 over Toyota. ;) ) I believe that our own comparison is not necessarily fair at this time because we have cruised Carnival 9 times (Liberty, Fascination, Glory (3 times), Breeze, Dream and Vista) and only once so far on Royal Caribbean (Allure of the Seas). We have also cruised once on Norwegian (Sky). However we don’t hold that horrible 3 day booze cruise against Norwegian. And that is giving Norwegian a huge benefit of the doubt. And to prove that we are willing to try anything we have an upcoming cruise booked on MSC (Divina). ;) So after our 1 Royal cruise we made a “Pros and Cons” comparison list between Royal and Carnival. Below is some of our thoughts between the 2 in no specific order. Entertainment You have to give kudos to Royal for their Broadway shows. We saw “Momma Mia”. You would never see that on Carnival. However, you had to make reservations on Royal for ALL their entertainment. We weren’t a big fan of that. And all their shows were the same all week long (for the most part). So “Momma Mia” was on the schedule all week long except for like the last 2 nights they had something different. And the last night was the same comedy show that they had all week long in the teeny tiny comedy club. So not a lot of variety. They did have the water show but again I believe that was the same all week long as well. On Carnival the shows are different every night and so is the comedy. Now all too often Carnival’s comedy isn’t overly funny as their comedians are more “shock jocks” just trying to see how far they can go with cussing and “pushing the envelope”. The single comedy show on Royal was truly funny and entertaining. Carnival will typically add a different entertainer 1 time mid-week which is typically pretty good. We have seen in this 1 time mid-week show a hypnotist and a magician for example. Those were really funny shows. So Royal had the best overall shows (“Momma Mia”, comedy, water show) but Carnival by far has more variety. And some of our favorite entertainment is the guest participation shows such as Love and Marriage and the Quest. We didn’t think Royal’s Quest was as good as Carnival’s. However, the Quest on the Vista was more like the Quest we experienced on Royal. So maybe it has to do more with the larger ships and more participants. Food We like Carnival’s MDR food better. We had started to complain about some of Carnival’s MDR food until we had Royal’s MDR food. For instance, I love Carnival’s crab cakes. I always order way more than I should because they are so good. Well I ordered multiple on Royal and they were a huge let down. I ate them simply because I felt compelled to do so after ordering multiple. And I can’t think of a single item in the MDR that I preferred on Royal over Carnival. Even the lobster wasn’t as good on Royal as Carnival. It was too chewy. Johnny Rocket’s for the most part is comparable to Guy’s Burger Joint. (Like I said, for the most part.) But you have to pay for it. The Boardwalk Dog House on Royal was cool and free. And Royal’s pizza blows Carnival’s pizza away BIG TIME. The other pay for restaurants that we tried out on each line I believe are comparable. But Carnival’s seem to be cheaper. And Carnival has some really good cheap specialty stuff. For instance you can get some great desserts at their coffee bar cheap. And good cheap appetizers at Red Frog Pub. And cheap Stone Creamery-esc ice cream on the Vista. The “old fashioned” ice cream parlor on Royal was definitely more expensive. Regarding the buffet food it seems like (maybe not the case but seems like it) Carnival has a larger buffet area. But maybe that is because Royal had the same buffet area in 2 places. Since those buffet areas are exactly the same we were only in 1. So multiple that by 2 and I guess it is the same size as Carnival’s. But regarding the food, yeah it’s buffet food. So it is what it is. They are pretty equivalent in the buffet food department. However, Royal has stations for their buffet food. Whereas Carnival you have to wait in long lines. Those stations on Royal are an excellent idea that prevents the freakin’ long lines you have to wait in on Carnvial. Staff We found Royal’s staff not nearly as friendly as Carnival’s staff. That doesn’t mean that Royal’s staff was mean or rude or anything. And those that helped us at guest services were very friendly and helpful. But overall, our experience has been that Carnival’s staff is friendlier. Now we have certainly experienced Carnival staff that wasn’t any more friendly than what we experienced on Royal but overall Carnival has been friendlier. And our Personal Vacation Planner (or whatever they are called at Royal) told us that she would have a wine and cheese platter or some such thing sent to our room to welcome us to Royal. We got nothing. Now I never expected anything from Royal for trying them out for the first time. But don’t tell me that you will do something then don’t do it. Guests Now here is where people trash Carnival. People claim all the time that the guests on Carnival are not nearly as “classy” as guests on other lines. Maybe so. But I don’t necessarily find “classier people” to be very “classy” if you will. More often than not they are snobs and look down on others. And they think they are better and deserved to be treated better even if that means walking all over those that aren’t as “classy”. To me, “classy” is a by-product of a society built on the class system. I prefer to not live in or experience the class system myself. Anyway, of the 9 Carnival cruises that we have been on I can only think of a couple of incidents where we saw people “acting out” if you will. And that wasn’t all cruise long. Those were specific incidents. And I’m sure that those incidents were fueled by alcohol. And that is what I hear all the time about Carnival, “It’s filled with a bunch of drunk people”. No, that was our 3 day Norwegian booze cruise. We haven’t encountered the hordes of drunk people on Carnival that we seem to always hear about. Matter of fact, I recently heard someone who is loyal to Royal tell me about all his encounters with drunk people on Royal but will NEVER cruise Carnival because it is so ripe with drunkenness. (OK, way to judge something you have never even experienced.) We have typically always found the other guests on Carnival to be friendly and polite for the most part. The rudest guests that we recall encountering are typically non-Americans. They often will push and shove their way through a line or crowd. Not all non-Americans do this. But typically when you see this done it is by a non-American. It’s extremely rude behavior that I just assume is a cultural thing as in that’s how they do it back home. Who knows? Anyway, on Royal I joked that I had never seen so many wheels on a ship before: strollers, walkers, wheel chairs, power scooters. They were everywhere. Now I don’t begrudge any of those people. I’m just saying if you feel like a cruise ship is crowed then these items make the ship feel even more crowded as they take up more room. And I mentioned the non-Americans on Carnival, I think there were more non-Americans on Royal. I’m certainly not opposed to non-Americans. It’s just something to be aware of in regards to possible “pushing and shoving”. And we saw way more little kids on Royal. In other words, they weren’t spending their time in the children’s area but rather with their parents roaming the ship. Matter of fact 1 night in the Royal Promenade a couple had their 2 young kids with them in the middle of the floor during the after show party. The kids got tired and just laid down on the floor. Now these were young kids but yet old enough to know better. And the parents did nothing about it. The place was packed. You could hardly move the place was so packed. People were trying to walk through and there were these kids lying on the floor. What was worse is when a “set of wheels” tried to move through this crowd and there are these kids on the floor right in the way. So our take from the 1 Royal cruise that we went on is that the guests weren’t as polite and friendly as they are on Carnival. Again this is an unfair comparison because we have only been on 1 Royal cruise. And EVERY cruise is different simply based on the guests alone. As a side note, I stated earlier that we enjoy the guest participation shows so I would like to suggest that Royal have power scooter races. ;) Ships As I said, thus far we have only been on 1 Royal cruise and it was intentionally on an Oasis class ship. I wanted to experience the big ship. We encountered many loyal to Royal guests that said “This ship sucks!” We were shocked. We liked the ship. And we enjoyed the cruise. But they complained that the ship was too big and therefore the service wasn’t as good because there were too many people that the staff had to attend to. And all these people highly recommended the Freedom class ships. We definitely want to try Royal again. And when we do we will cruise on a Freedom class ship so that we can compare the differences. And after cruising on Carnival’s biggest ship (Vista) I can understand what the loyal to Royal folks were talking about. The Vista was fine but we do prefer the 2 classes below the Vista better. And maybe that is the case due to the staff to guest ratio. Who knows? There were definitely some things that we did like about the Vista but then there were some things that we didn’t like about the Vista. And to be honest those things that we didn’t like seemed to be imitations of the way things were done on our Royal cruise. Regarding the physical ships themselves, we typically have no complaints with any of the ships that we have cruised on. Now, we do prefer 3 closets in our room opposed to only 2. And shelves in the bathroom on each side of the mirror. And a fridge in the room. And there was a Carnival ship that had a color theme of purple that my wife didn’t care for. But for the most part, we are not that nit-picky. We are simply glad to be on a cruise. Bottom Line We have more “Pros” for Carnival. And you can find cheaper cruises on Carnival. However, when comparing “apples to apples” Royal isn’t that much more expensive. And as I said, we definitely want to cruise Royal again. So it’s not like we are anti Royal. We just prefer Carnival… for now. ;) And I always get a kick out of those people who like to trash something, such as Carnival, but yet they have never even experienced that thing they are trashing. Can you say “credibility problem”? I knew you could. ;)

Posted by sundalangur

Entertainment on Royal is vastly superior for the Broadway style shows alone.

Posted by Cruising1991

I have been on 7 Carnival and 1 Royal Carribean. Carnival is the best with many, perks, on board credits and does not charge you for everything

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